Day care: What can you do when you suspect your caregiver?

I have a caregiver who helps me look after the my 17-month-old baby while I coach my older sons in their schoolwork.

I've discovered some funny bruises on my baby's body once in a while. I have asked my caregiver, who has been with us four months, about the bruises but she replied that she did not know how they happened. I put it off as accidental bruises as my baby tends to be active.

The caregiver has been with us four months and my baby is not attached to her. He usually comes to me and does not want to go to her when I need to spend time with my other kids. Is this reluctance significant? How can I make sure this is not child abuse?

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Gayle Peterson

Gayle Peterson, PhD, is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She is a clinical member of the Association... Read more

You are right to be concerned about your baby's reluctance to be with your caregiver. There are many reasons why a child may show such reluctance, but after four months with no signs of attachment it is time to change your caregiver on that premise alone.

You are clearly uncomfortable with this person caring for your child. Though the evidence you have does not indict your caregiver of child abuse, it does suggest a caregiver that does not report incidents to you which should be brought to your attention.

The fact that your caregiver is not able to account for bruises on your child may mean that she is not supervising him appropriately or hiding the fact that he is falling down alot when under her care. His activity should be monitored closely enough that she can tell you what might have caused bruising, even if she does not know for sure.

All of your feelings point to distrust. So it is not surprising that your child would not feel comfortable with this caregiver. Your baby depends on your feelings of trust to feel secure and you are not able to give your child this needed security.

Trust your instincts. Your caregiver does not have to be abusive to be fired. Your uncomfortable feelings are enough.

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